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June 11, 2020
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 Inside this issue
  Executive Directors Message  


Recently, the NJ DEP announced an expansion to a grant program they have to promote the installation of battery chargers for electric vehicles, which now includes grants to install DC Fast charging. DC fast chargers are the type of charging most comparable to the gasoline experience, since motorists can fill up to the 80% charge mark in about 20 minutes. However, these models are also the most expensive, with total costs in the low six figures. This grant will cover 80% of the cost of installation, up to $200,000 for a location that is within 1 mile of an exit or intersection of a major traffic corridor. If you have the space, and particularly if you have a convenience store, this could be a very good opportunity. The deadline to submit an application is Monday, June 22nd. If you are interested in applying for a grant, please reach out to Eric@njgca.org and we will connect you with some folks from a charging company who can walk you through the economics and the particulars of applying for the grant. More details of the program can be found here.
Since the State of Emergency has gone into effect, we have received numerous calls from members who have received this letter from the attorney general's office. It seems like it's a form letter advising to cease and desist the practice of price gouging because their office had received a complaint. The important and confusing thing about this letter is that it does not identify the product or the price with which the complaint was made. My best guess is that the attorney general's office is overwhelmed with consumer complaints over the course of this entire crisis and when this is  all over, they will be conducting investigations asking for sales records, purchase receipts, and anything that would back up a claim of price gouging (or a defense to refute price gouging). According to the attorney general's office, they have received over 5,100 complaints of gouging against nearly 2,700 businesses; and have sent out nearly 1,600 of these cease-and-desist letters to businesses while issuing only 108 subpoenas.
I am relatively confident that the basis for receiving the letter is groundless and ultimately most will be exonerated. I am especially confident because the members who have contacted us run exceptional businesses and have always portrayed a high level of integrity. They have all been acting cautiously to make sure their businesses practices don't run afoul of the law. Because of the crisis, people have been quick to make an accusation that the attorney general is obligated to respond to. If you have received any of these letters, please contact Michelle at michelle@njgca.org immediately. It is extremely important that you maintain all of your sales records that show what your retail price was for all of your products every day that the State of Emergency has been in place. It is important for you to have the evidence for what you were charging every day. The State Of Emergency went into effect March 9th, that is the base line that the price gouging law will refer to. It is also important that you maintain a record of the invoices on all of the products that you purchased for sale.
If by chance you are purchasing products from trunk slammers and not receiving an invoice, this could present a problem. This includes transient parts and shop supply vendors or sellers of products sold in a convenience store. If in fact you do receive a subpoena then that means we will have to provide evidence to defend you. Once a product and a price has been identified as the reason for the complaint, I'll be able to ask you a series of questions to determine whether or not you have a legitimate problem. I will repeat, I am relatively confident based on what I know of NJGCA members and those who have already received letters that you won't have an issue and will be able to clear this up.
We have addressed the issue of employees wearing masks recently and feel that we need to elaborate as businesses begin to open next week. Employees are required to wear a mask, unless they have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing one. We talked about this and other tips for stopping the spread of the virus in our excellent webinar that we did last week on best practices which is now up on our website. Those of you who were unable to attend the webinar can listen to the recording and view the slides as if you were there. We also recently released a guidance document that has been prepared with input from other NJGCA members who have shared their best practices and suggestions along with recommendations from the CDC and Health Department. If anyone has any other suggestions or additions, please contact Michelle at michelle@njgca.org. We suggest you print this out and keep this handy for your employees to refer to.
We've had a number of members tell us that they were successful getting their application for the NJ EDA grant in on Tuesday. They followed our instructions and were able to get through to submit their application. As we expected, the volume of applications was so enormous that the money had run out after only four hours after the application opened. This does not mean it's not worth it to apply: if you have not yet, you may want to in case some applications are denied and that money opens up, or if another round of funding becomes available. Please let us know if you also were successful getting your application in and if you have been approved and received the grant by emailing Michelle at michelle@njgca.org.

Be Well -  
Sal Risalvato
Executive Director




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  News Around The State  

Oil Prices Predicted to Drop Again
Oil prices have surged in the U.S. in recent weeks, with Brent crude up 35% since May 1. But Goldman Sachs predicts that prices will fall in coming weeks due to one billion barrels of excess oil and lower-than-expected demand, reports Business Insider. U.S. crude oil posted its sharpest monthly gains on record in May when the price per barrel surged by almost 90% for the month to settle at about $35. When the market opened on Tuesday, the price of a barrel was $38-plus, but analysts at Goldman Sachs think that rally may now be nearing its end.

N.J. Small Businesses Are Fed Up With Murphy's Coronavirus Reopening - And Still Can't Get Answers
Throughout the pandemic, Murphy and his coronavirus team have provided daily updates about case numbers, nursing homes and hospitalizations, saying they are trying to be transparent. But when it comes to business - and especially the small businesses that are the lifeblood of the state's economy - it's a different story. Business owners, industry representatives and even legislators in his own party have said that when it comes to addressing the specifics about businesses - exactly when they can reopen and what will determine that - the governor has fallen behind and offered little useful guidance. "I give them a lot of credit for communication and for moving swiftly to lock things down and keep us safe," said Jim Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers. "I'm afraid I - and I think most of the business community - don't feel the same way about what happened next. The administration did not move as quickly and decisively to open up or permit with proper restrictions the reopening of businesses that could operate safely."

Pandemic Demands Plastic
On March 18, one week after COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic, Tony Radoszewski, head of the plastics industry's main U.S. lobbying group, sent the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services a strongly worded letter. Bans on single-use items had been proliferating across states and cities for years, but with the virus threatening America, he said, enough was enough, Bloomberg reports. During the pandemic, plastics lobbyists have been touting the role their products play in keeping people safe, and early figures indicate those efforts are being rewarded. In April both Germany's Ineos Styrolution Group and U.S.-based Trinseo SA reported seeing double-digit percentage increases in sales at their food packaging and health-care divisions.

Germany to Require EV Chargers at Gas Stations
As part of its economic recovery plan, Germany will mandate that all gas stations offer electric vehicle charging ports, Reuters reports. The country wants to drive demand for EVs by removing refueling concerns. . . Germany's announcement comes after French President Emmanuel Macron revealed his country's plan to increase EV sales. EV proponents point out that plans such as Germany's are essential to accelerating EV adoption in the United States as well. Electric-car range anxiety is one of the major reasons Americans aren't buying such vehicles, Bloomberg reports.

Businesses Are Reopening. Will Workers Return If They're Making More On Unemployment?
As the economy reopens after the coronavirus-inducted shutdown, some unemployed workers must answer one big question: Do I want to go back? That has led to a debate in Washington about whether lawmakers should extend the $600-a-week federal unemployment insurance payment that expires July 31. The House Democrats' $3 trillion stimulus bill would extend the payments into January, but President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans have refused to go along.

Task Force Planned To Give Hydrogen Fuel Cells A Boost In NJ
With an eye toward the economy of the future, the Legislature is one vote away from sending a bill to Gov. Phil Murphy's creating a Fuel Cell Task Force that would study ways to make the state hospitable to hydrogen energy. . . Sal Risalvato, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline-Convenience- Automotive Association, said the task force could help address the "chicken and the egg" challenge facing hydrogen-powered cars: People are reluctant to buy them if there aren't fuel stations, and gas stations don't want to convert until there are enough cars. Risalvato said such cars are already a viable alternative to electric plug-in vehicles. "Today, we're in the future and these fuels and these technologies are existing and ready to be put to use," Risalvato said.

NJ's In-Person Driver's License, MVC To Restart Amid Coronavirus
Gov. Phil Murphy, speaking during a Friday news conference, announced that you'll soon be able to take care of your driver's license and motor vehicle tasks "in-person" amid the coronavirus outbreak. He made the statement as he announced 864 new cases and 79 more deaths (you can watch it here, below). Murphy said the Motor Vehicle Commission will restart its in-person customer service on June 15th. Walk-in service, behind-the-wheel road tests and the issuing of new licenses and permits will resume on June 29th. Beginning June 15th, the agency will allow only drop-off and pick-up transactions until walk-in service can resume on June 29th.

Trump Signs PPP Reform Bill Loosening Restrictions On Small Business Loan Recipients
President Trump on Friday signed into law bipartisan legislation giving small business owners who tapped a federal aid program more flexibility in how they spend the loans, the latest effort by the federal government to blunt the economic pain of the coronavirus pandemic. The Paycheck Protection Program, a centerpiece of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, provided forgivable loans of up to $10 million to businesses with fewer than 500 workers. But the new law - the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act - eases the restrictions on how the money must be spent in order to be forgiven. Loan recipients now only have to spend 60 percent of the aid on maintaining payroll - including salary, health insurance, leave and severance pay -  rather than the previous 75 percent rule. The remaining 40 percent can go toward operating costs like rent and utilities.

What Role Do Small Businesses Have When Injustice Happens?
Some of the biggest cases of extrajudicial killing of Black men involve a convenience store. Michael Brown was arrested at a liquor store before being killed by police in Ferguson. Alton Sterling was selling CDs outside of a convenience store where he was killed. Travyon Martin was returning from a 7-11 when he was killed by George Zimmerman - Skittles bought from the store became symbolic of Trayvon's innocence. And now, George Floyd was killed by police in front of Cup Food, a convenience store in Minneapolis. The list of killings, unfortunately, can go on. Some say Cup Food bears some responsibility for Floyd's killing since an employee was the one who called police. Others have commended the response by Cup Food, which permitted a mural be painted of Floyd on a wall outside of the store. What should we expect from small businesses when an injustice happens like the killing of George Floyd?



  Energy Information Agency Weekly Retail Gasoline Prices  
Each week, the Energy Information Administration publishes a list of average gasoline prices for the previous three weeks. NJGCA will begin including this list with the Weekly Road Warrior. Remember, these prices are reflective of self-serve everywhere except NJ.


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